Office 365: A (very) Worthy Successor to BPOS

Office 365: A (very) Worthy Successor to BPOS

Microsoft Office 365 (and SaaS in general) has thrown a monkey wrench into the plans of many an IT Director. To be blunt, IT has had a very comfortable run for a long time. Buy server. Install software. Maintain server. Connect to server. Run software. Rinse and repeat.

Now, with the advent of SaaS, we are routinely being challenged to re-think that long held IT tradition of “Ser-ver” versus “Ser-vice”. This was how we quantified the service that IT provided to the organization. Keeping things “in-house” allowed us to keep our eyes on our company’s information, ensure it was getting into the hands of the users who need it, and out of harms way.

“SaaS will change how you deliver IT services…”
We’ve been hearing that since 2009. However, Microsoft’s first foray into SaaS called Business Productivity Online Services or BPOS, wasn’t ready for most businesses. There were “gremlins”. Or as my Dad says, “Let it cook a while, it ain’t soup yet.”

Believe it or not, This was actually good for Microsoft. The product wasn’t ready, but neither were businesses. It would have meant lots of change, and no one was really ready for that. We could take solace in the fact that the lacking features would cause us to take a step backward. The shortcomings would force us to ask our users to compromise their productivity in order to adopt. As a partner, the Single Sign On (SSO) model wasn’t ready for the enterprise so it was hard to support. The value prop was clear, but it wasn’t our strategy to recommend a customer should limit or inhibit the user experience in the name of IT gain. ( …just sayin’)

A funny thing happened on the way to 2013
As BPOS matured into what we now know as Office 365, something happened. It got good. It got real good. It’s Soup. So good, in fact, that we are now talking in terms of trying to find gaps in feature parity.

For the most part, the features of an on-prem Microsoft Office Solution (Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and the Office Suite) and the online Microsoft solution, in Office 365, are almost the same. Not always, in the case of Voice, BI, and public folders, but I am not sure losing public folders is a bad thing. I digress. This honest-to-goodness feature parity now causes us to look at the product with a new mindset.

What we really find when we dig in to the Office 365 feature set, is that it is…well…ready. The feature parity is very solid and by moving data connectivity services, Data Loss Prevention, Archive, HD Video, and more in to the offering, it becomes very compelling for an IT decision maker. Don’t even get me started about the possibilities of integrating Azure with Office 365 as a data platform. Too cool.

If we look at features alone though it isn’t enough. In order to evaluate the Office 365 offering, we need to look at what the opportunity is for us to transform our business and add dollars to the bottom line as well as services to the organization.

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About Tim Mckellips

Tim is the Manager of Solutions Architecture and Microsoft Strategy for Softchoice. Throughout the last 15 years, he has been helping customers choose, design, deploy, and adopt technology in the Microsoft technology stacks.